Forget Floods, ECMA's Ready To Sweep East Coast This Week
During the weekend celebrations, 18-time ECMA winner Lennie Gallant and his song "Peter's Dream" as well as Stan Rogers are to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
By Ken Kelley
The 2019 edition of the East Coast Music Awards launches in beautiful Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island this Wednesday. This year’s festivities boast a dynamic mix of more than 100 showcasing artists covering genres ranging from traditional Celtic to heavy metal. Also on tap are world-class conferences featuring panelists including songwriter-producer Brian Howes, In-Flight Safety founder/producer John Mullane, Instinct Entertainment’s Michael Perlmutter, YouTube’s Eric Knapp and more.
Heading into Thursday night’s awards show, to be hosted by Jonathan Torrens (Mr. D, Trailer Park Boys, Taggart & Torrens), platinum-selling rapper Classified leads the pack with seven nominations, while Ben Caplan boasts six. Polaris Music Prize winner Jeremy Dutcher secured five nominations while Nova Scotian band Hillsburn, Paper Lions, Newfoundland’s Fortunate Ones and emerging pop stars Neon Dreams each have four. FM Berlin, Simon Daniel, Meaghan Blanchard, Ryan Cook, Heather Rankin, Les Hotesses d’Hilaire and The Stanfields are also among the nominees.
With an anticipated $3 million expected to be injected into the Prince Edward Island economy in the week ahead, Andy McLean, the East Coast Music Awards’ CEO, says he’s looking forward to more than two years’ worth of groundwork finally coming to fruition.
“Charlottetown is a great city to work in for any number of reasons,” McLean begins. “For a big festival like this, it’s great in terms of the close proximity of the various venues and hotels. Overall, everyone from all levels of both the city and provincial governments, as well as those from the local community have been great to work with. It’s a valued partnership and nothing that any of us take for granted.”
Since taking the reins of the East Coast Music Awards in 2014, McLean says the annual celebration continues to draw significant artist and audience numbers as well as industry interest.
“The awards and showcases continue to be a huge place for generating opportunities for great talent, including national and international partnerships,” McLean says. “Our Export Buyer’s Program continues to thrive and secure opportunities for East Coast artists to broaden their reach to international markets. I consider it to be one of the most important initiatives the association has undertaken. This year’s international contingent of delegates is the biggest we’ve had to date with people from eight different countries from around the world ready to descend upon Charlottetown and take in the world-class talent we have to offer.”
“We’ve also worked with TD over the last four years and have been progressively growing their involvement to the point where they are a presenting sponsor for this year’s awards.”
In addition to moving the timing of the East Coast Music Awards to be later in the year, one of the most notable changes instituted by McLean over the last five years has been placing the awards show at the outset of the week, rather than the end.
“Kicking off the week with the awards show has worked out rather well these last five years,” McLean says. “Artists love it because everyone is still fresh and gets to be a part of this big celebration at the beginning of the week rather than at the end when everyone is tired and worn down. But the timing of the awards also gives nominees another four days to promote what they’re doing.”
The East Coast Music Awards will wrap up on Sunday with a Celtic brunch and lobster supper, but also on tap are the presentation of music, industry and honourary awards.
Among the more than 20 presentations to be made during Sunday’s event is the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s induction of musical storyteller Stan Rogers, and the song "Peter’s Dream" and 18-time ECMA winner Lennie Gallant who is also to be honoured with the presentation of the Directors’ Special Achievement award, which will recognize the contributions he has made to the music industry.
Celebrated Mig'mag musician Hubert Francis will be presented with the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award. Born on the Elsipogtog First Nation of New Brunswick, he started his rock group, J. Hubert Francis & Eagle Feather, in 1990. They have recorded three albums, the latest of which, Message From a Drum, received two Juno Award nominations, three East Coast Music Award nominations, and a Native American Music Award nomination.
New Brunswick’s Yolande Bourgeois is this year’s Industry Builder Award recipient while Donnie Campbell, Jeff Liberty, Anita Best, Jerry Granelli, and Music PEI’s Rob Oakie are each slated to receive this year’s Stompin’ Tom Award, which honours their respective long-term contributions to the East Coast Music Industry.
Christina Martin and Kinley are just two of the six nominees competing for the 2019 Video of the Year Award, while PEI’s Trailside Café & Inn and Halifax’s The Carleton duke it out alongside Fredericton’s Capital, The Mack and St. John’s The Ship Pub for Venue of the Year.